Hispanic and Italian Studies


Lotfi Sayahi, Ph.D., Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Associate Professors
Ilka Kressner, Ph.D., University of Virginia (LLC Chair)
Olimpia Pelosi, Ph.D., University of North Carolina
Carmen Serrano, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine

Assistant Professor
Sara L. Zahler, Ph.D., Indiana University

Visiting Assistant Professors
Stephen Bocskay, Ph.D., Brown University
Patrick Lawrence, Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin

J. Leonardo Correa, Ph.D., University at Albany, SUNY
Luis Cuesta, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles
Maria Keyes, M.A., University at Albany, SUNY
Elizabeth Lansing, Ph.D., University at Albany, SUNY
Dora Ramirez, Ph.D., University at Albany, SUNY

Adjuncts (estimated): 9
Teaching Assistants (estimated): 5

The Hispanic and Italian Studies program expects its students to become highly proficient in speaking, understanding, reading and writing the foreign language, as well as to develop a thorough knowledge of and an appreciation for literatures and cultures of the Spanish or Italian speaking world. Proficiency in language skills is regarded not only as an end in itself but also as a means of studying a foreign culture. A full program is offered leading to the B.A. in Spanish and there are opportunities for an interdisciplinary studies B.A. in Italian. Students may also choose to minor in Spanish and/or Italian.


Spanish majors are employed in a wide variety of occupations, including education, language services, healthcare, business, banking and finance, government and diplomacy, law and criminal justice, international non-profits, international aid and development, international research and data, media and publishing, communication and journalism. In today's United States, Spanish majors with bilingual skills have an edge over their peers.

Combining knowledge of Italian culture and language with a variety of other majors helps build a stronger employment portfolio. Business corporations have many prospects for bi- or multi-lingual employees with Italian skills, including sales and production, HR, training, accounting, finance, banking, healthcare, science and engineering. Utilizing Italian and other foreign languages strengthens credentials in teaching and academic research. Hospitality, airline, tourism, and entertainment industries seek multilingual staff. Translating and interpreting skills are important to diplomatic service, business, military intelligence, nonprofit/humanitarian organizations and international law.

Special Programs and Opportunities

The Hispanic and Italian Studies program also participates in interdisciplinary studies in conjunction with programs in the Departments of Art and Art History, History, Latin American, Caribbean, and U.S. Latino Studies, Linguistics, Music and Theater, and in the School of Education.

The department encourages students to consider study abroad. For more information about available options, contact The Center for International Education and Global Strategy.

Use of the foreign language and the exchange of ideas are fostered through language clubs, colloquia, lectures, films and other activities.

The Student-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major in Italian Studies*

Students wishing to go beyond basic language instruction in Italian should meet with the Undergraduate Advisor to discuss proposing their own Interdisciplinary Major by blending courses from the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures and other academic departments on campus. Many departments on campus offer courses relevant to Italian Studies, including (but not limited to) Africana Studies, Anthropology, Art and Art History, English, History, Linguistics, Music and Theater, Philosophy, and Women’s Studies. See the guidelines for the Student-Initiated Interdisciplinary Major at https://www.albany.edu/undergraduateeducation/interdisciplinary_studies.php

Degree Requirements for the Major in Spanish

General Program B.A.: Students majoring in Spanish must complete a minimum of 36 credits in Spanish while fulfilling one of two specializations: (1) Hispanic literatures and cultures, or (2) Spanish language, linguistics, teaching. These credits must be distributed as follows:

Core (15 credits): A SPN 201, A SPN 205 or 206, A SPN 208 or 209, A SPN 303, and A SPN 310. Advanced speakers of Spanish may replace 200-level core requirements with more advanced coursework.

Specialization (15 credits):

Hispanic Literatures and Cultures: 6 credits of 400-level Spanish language, linguistics, teaching coursework from A SPN 401-410, 442, 490-495; 6 credits of 400-level Hispanic literatures and cultures coursework from A SPN 414-482 (except 442); and 3 credit capstone A SPN 443.


Spanish Language, Linguistics, Teaching: 6 credits of 400-level Hispanic literatures and cultures coursework from A SPN 414-482 (except 442); 6 credits of 400 level Spanish language, linguistics, teaching coursework from A SPN 401-410, 442, 490-495; and a 3 credit capstone from A SPN 401 or 403.

Electives (6 credits): Spanish coursework at the 300 level or above. (A LIN 220 may replace one elective in the Spanish language, linguistics, teaching specialization.)

Honors Program in Spanish

The Honors Program in Spanish is designed to promote opportunities for advanced work to highly motivated, mature undergraduate majors and prepare them to do independent work. Students may apply for admission to the Honors Program no earlier than the beginning of the second semester of their sophomore year. To gain admission to the Program, students must have formally declared a major in Spanish and have completed at least 12 credits toward their major. In addition, they must have an overall GPA of at least 3.25, and 3.50 in their major, both of which must be maintained in order to graduate with honors.

Students must complete the 36 credits required for the major as well as a 4 credit Honors Thesis (A SPN 499) to be done the semester in which they graduate. Students are required to take one additional course at the 400-500 level within the area of their specialization. This additional 400-500 level course does not increase the number of credits required for the major or for the Honors Program but only mandates that one of the student’s elective courses be at the most advanced level in the area of their specialization. The Honors Thesis should be a 25-40 page research project directed by a faculty member of the Spanish Program. Students interested in doing the Honors Program in Spanish should express that interest to their faculty mentor. The Honors Program liaison is currently Dr. Carmen Serrano ([email protected]).

Combined B.A./M.A. Program in Spanish

The combined B.A./M.A. program in Spanish provides an opportunity for students of recognized academic ability and educational maturity to fulfill integrated requirements of undergraduate and master’s degree programs from the beginning of their junior year. A carefully designed program can permit a student to earn the B.A. and M.A. degrees within nine semesters.

The combined program requires a minimum of 138 credits, of which at least 30 must be graduate credits. In qualifying for the B.A., students must meet all University and College of Arts and Sciences requirements, including the requirements of the undergraduate major described previously, the minor requirement, the minimum 90-credit liberal arts and sciences requirement, general education requirements and residency requirements. In qualifying for the M.A., students must meet all University and College of Arts and Sciences requirements, including completion of a minimum of 30 graduate credits and course distribution requirements within their M.A. concentration, and successful completion of the M.A. exams. Up to 12 graduate credits may be applied simultaneously to both the B.A. and M.A. programs.

Students may apply for admission to the combined degree program in Spanish at the beginning of their junior year or after the successful completion of 56 credits. Students entering the University with advanced standing in Spanish may be admitted after satisfying the core requirements: A SPN 205 or 206, 208 or 209, 303, 310, and one additional 300 level course. A cumulative grade point average of 3.20 or higher and three supportive letters of recommendation from faculty are required for consideration.